Seasonal Flavors: Trends of Summer

September 11, 2020
Summer Trends
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Warm weather and sunshiny days aren’t the only stand outs of summer. From the taste of crisp watermelon, to sweet corn on the cob and ice-cold beverages, the staples of summer are forever in our memories. As expected, refreshing flavors like berry and pineapple remain popular while classics like marshmallow have shown growth. And as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers through the summer months, consumer food experiences at home have become even more important. Let’s take a taste of summer, from its top flavors and sellers to grilling season’s impact and summer alcohol’s stand out presence.

Summer's Top Flavors in Seasonal & LTO's:

Top Flavors By Number of Releases

North America, Summer 2020

  • Berry

  • Birthday Cake/Party Cake

  • Pineapple

  • Chocolate & Peanut Butter

  • Cinnamon & Cream/ Crème/Whipped Cram

  • Cinnamon & Apple

  • Italian

  • Chocolate (Milk) & Fudge & Toffee & Cookie Dough

Fastest Growing Flavors Globally

Seasonal Products Q2 2019 VS Q2 2020

  • Rice (Crisped/Puffed) +600%

  • Shortbread +500%

  • Tutti Frutti +400%

  • Brownie +300%

  • Blackberry +300%

  • Wafer +300%

Fastest Growing Flavors North America

Seasonal Products Q2 2019 VS Q2 2020

  • Almond: +200%

  • Marshmallow +200%

  • Peach +100%

  • Raspberry +100%

  • Cola +100%

  • Cherry Blossom/Sakura +100%

Grilling Season

Grilling season is a staple of summer, and with more consumers eating from home, it’s even more prevalent this summer. New introductions featured grilling season inspired products including the whole nine yards - plant-based meats, to tangy marinades, summer salads and more.

Incogmeato Plant-based Meat Options: MorningStar Farms launched a line of plant-based alt-meat products just in time for grilling season. The plant-based meat option that can be prepared on the grill caters to a more health-focused consumer.

Good & Gather Tangy Mango Cilantro Salad: This limited-edition product features arugula and baby greens, chili lime seasoned white-meat chicken, shredded carrots, dried mangoes and cashews with mango cilantro vinaigrette.

44% of consumers said they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Sol Tropical Mango Coconut Marinade: A limited time offering, Sol Tropical Mango Coconut Marinade is now available.

41% of consumers said they likely or definitely would purchase this product.
“While the flavor, convenience and social aspect of grilling still remain key themes that will capture consumers’ attention, the power of influencers and social media continues to grow, bringing new engagement opportunities for brands and retailers to reach grillers,” – Progressive Grocer

“Taste is the top reason that people venture outside their homes to grill...The “State of the Barbecue Industry” report shows that 68% of grill owners do so because of the flavor,” – Progressive Grocer

What's Hot

Mintel IRIS Sellers: Globally, 2020

Mintel’s global IRIS Top Sellers highlight summer seasonal favorites from birthday cake chocolate to refreshing alcoholic beverages, sweet cereal and more.

  • Kit Kat Birthday Cake Flavored Chocolate

  • Chips Ahoy! Sour Patch Kids Cookies

  • Smirnoff Red, White & Berry Premium Malt Beverage

  • Frosted Flakes & Froot Loops Mashups Cereal

  • Cheerios Toasted Coconut Sweetened Wholegrain Oat Cereal

  • Maple Pecan K-Cup Pods

  • Old Dutch Spicy Dill Pickle Chips

  • Stella Artois Solstice Lager

  • Lima Spiked Limeade*

  • Flying Dog Brewery SPF 1000 Summer Variety Pack

Alcohol Refreshers

We’ve spotted lots of summer alcoholic beverages popping up in the past few months. From hazy IPAs to spiked limeade, Mintel IRIS noted multiple alcoholic drinks as top sellers this season.

Flying Dog Brewery SPF 1000 Summer Variety Pack:  The summer pack includes varieties including Numero Uno, a Mexican lager; Pool Hopping, a deck beer (hazy Summer ale); and Thunderpeel, a hazy IPA.

28% of consumers said that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Lima Spiked Limeade: Said to be crafted with summer in mind, the limeade is sweetened with agave nectar and real lime juice and can be enjoyed wherever, from the beach to the backyard.

42% of consumers said that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Stella Artois Solstice Lager: This summer limited edition lager is balanced with citrus essences and a crisp finish.

55%of consumers said that they likely or definitely would buy this product.

Smirnoff Red, White & Berry Seltzer: Made with natural flavors including cherry, citrus and blue raspberry, the seltzer is free from sugar and artificial sweeteners with 90 calories and 1g carbs.

25% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product

Marshmallow & Mango

Seasonal sellers featured comforting flavors and bold fruit flavors. The nostalgic taste of a campfire s’more and the delight of a refreshing sweet and tart fruit such as a mango are inspirations for this summer’s sellers.

 Social Listening: Past 3 Months


97% Positivity

Top Topics: Fresh, Fruit, Summer, Sweet, Delicious


95% Positivity

Top Topics: S’mores, Toasted, Summer, Sweet, Graham Cracker

Starbucks Returning S’mores Frappuccino: The returning Frappuccino features blends marshmallow-infused whipped cream, milk chocolate sauce, coffee, milk and ice, and graham cracker crumble for a nostalgic treat.

Cadbury S’mores Milk Chocolate: This limited-edition bar features milk chocolate with graham cookie pieces and marshmallow bits.

Chic Fil A Mango Iced Tea: Chic Fil A’s Mango Passion Tea Lemonade launched nationwide June 29th. The drink mixes their classic lemonade, unsweetened iced tea and a mango syrup featuring mango and passionfruit natural flavors

Häagen-Dazs Summer Refreshing Collection: This Summer Refreshing collection features flavors including Cantaloupe Melon, Mango & Cream and Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream. Made with real fruit, the ice creams have a balanced sweet and rich summer flavor.

Flavor Experience at Home

With COVID restrictions, consumers miss experiences and flavors from travel and other activities they are missing out on in social distancing. Food and beverage developers worked on bringing nostalgic summer experiences and flavors to home. Product developers have done so by highlighting refreshing and fun fruit flavors or summer classics staples such as ice cream, marshmallows, and beer.

Shake Shack – Shack Camp At-home Camp Experience Box

The burger joint created a box featuring six camp experiences to keep families engaged and active all summer. The box includes a DIY lemonade stand, campfire stories, summer sundae kit and more. Plus, the offering includes vouchers for free burgers and shakes, $10 off your order and more.

Common Space Ice Cream Sandwich Beer Kit:

Common Space Brewery offers a kit including a four-pack of their ice cream beer, mixed four-pack of other Common Space beers, three ice cream sandwiches, two pint glasses, and a pint of Coolhaus Chocolate Molten Cake ice cream or a Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Fudge Chip ice cream option for $60 total.

“During these times, when many cannot get to vacation spots or gather with large groups of family and friends, brands can support consumers in bringing these flavor experiences into their homes,” -  Julie Barnes, Product Development Specialist at ingredients manufacturer Treatt | Food Ingredients 1st

The Takeaways

Both bold and refreshing fruit flavors and indulgent flavors such as marshmallows, chocolate and peanut butter and birthday cake rose to North America’s Summer top flavor list. And while this summer is different than most with COVID-19 restrictions still looming, developers catered to consumers by giving food experiences that scream summer through flavor. For example, the average s’more inspires a s’mores Frappuccino, tropical vacation beverages inspire passion tea lemonades and seltzers, and classic summer activities like camping and grilling inspire at-home summer kits. Alcoholic beverages to confectionery and more, product developers can find opportunity in this space, often by taking inspiration from consumer’s summer nostalgia or finding ways to bring summer straight to their door.

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Sources in full report